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Rochester hires Community Outreach Facilitator  

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The City of Rochester has announced the hiring of Erin Nasino for the newly created position of Community Outreach Facilitator. 

Prior to being hired for this position, Nasino worked for Lydia’s House of Hope in Somersworth, a unique 365-day program, for people experiencing homelessness, which focuses on developing foundational life skills for their residents.  Also, Erin will utilize her experience as a former Residential Case Manager at the My Friends Place homeless shelter in Dover.

The Community Outreach Facilitator will conduct public outreach within the community, at designated locations and by referral, to navigate receptive residents experiencing mental health difficulties, including substance use, toward available and appropriate provider services. She will collaborate with community and regional service providers to build working collaborative relationships to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of assistance. Nasino will work closely with the Police Department, Fire Department, and other city departments.    

Initially, the position will be supported by federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds and operate under the Municipal Welfare Department, while working closely with the Police Department.

Deputy Manager and Finance Director, Katie Ambrose, explained that the position would be developed an as evidence-based program, in accordance with Treasury requirements. Examples of evidence would be the use of “existing data, studies, and best practices.” The position will be posted as grant-funded through FY26.

“A key component of this program, from the start, would be data collection and analysis,” said Ambrose. “So, when the grant has reached its end, City Council can make a data-driven decision on whether or not to continue funding in the [City] budget.”

According to Welfare Director Todd Marsh, who also serves as president of the New Hampshire Local Welfare Administrator’s Association, Rochester is the first in the State of New Hampshire to embed an outreach position within a municipal Welfare Department.   

“Rochester is one of only a small handful of municipalities within New Hampshire that has added outreach or social workers as part of their toolbox of solutions to more effectively assist people with mental health, including substance use difficulties,” said Marsh.   “The connection to the Welfare Department will provide access to our internal resources of information, and already established collaborative relationships with other agencies and organizations.”  Marsh added the position “will work with emergency services, including the Police Department, but not for them.”

Nasino shared she will miss working at Lydia’s House of Hope, but is excited to further her journey on the outside of the shelter house walls and onto the streets and other locations in Rochester as Community Outreach Facilitator.

“I loved my previous employment and was selective with choosing a different one,” said Nasino. “This newly created position will provide lots of opportunities to transform it from an already solid job description to a workable job practice.”

Nasino believes her work and life experiences will be helpful to her, while acknowledging the different dynamics of outreach work.  

“In many ways, building trusting working relationships with people when outreaching will be different and often quicker than working at a shelter program environment where it develops more slowly and under a supportive roof,” said Nasino. “Building trust will still be important, but I will need to adapt to the different dynamics of outreach.”

As part of her new hire onboarding experience for her position, Nasino has been meeting with city departments and plans to reach out to current outreach workers throughout the greater Tri-City area to introduce herself and learn from their shared experiences.    

Nasino is familiar with her new boss, as she spoke with him on the phone periodically while working for the My Friend’s Place homeless shelter and met him when she brought a Lydia’s House of Hope resident into Marsh’s Welfare Department for assistance. 

“I met director Marsh while I was advocating for a Lydia’s House of Hope resident,” said Nasino. “I remember the calming music in his waiting room and the overall relaxing office atmosphere that must put people at ease. He was very respectful and pleasant to not just to me, but to the person I was advocating for.  His approach and support should make for an easier transition for me.”   

City Manager Blaine Cox believes this evidence-based position is a good fit for the Welfare Department and the city.

“Our Welfare Office is the social service department within City Hall and as such, it makes sense for a social service outreach type position to be part of that team and benefit from the existing knowledge and connections to help the people of Rochester,” said Cox.

Cox added the position is “focused on making connections to mental health and substance use assistance providers and will not be responsible, beyond referrals, for the financial assistance function within the Welfare Department.”      

Marsh cites a community-up approach as the influence for this position.

“This initiative by Rochester leaders is testament to increased greater community awareness efforts of various commissions, alliances, and individual residents that have shifted the tide of focus toward mental health, including substance misuse,” said Marsh. “We can take collective community pride with this effort.”

Marsh describes the position as an innovative way for his department and others, including the Police Department, to continue taking a more holistic approach to reduce recidivism for financial assistance, homelessness, and emergency services. 

“Continuous improvement with current city government practices is ongoing and has value, however, we owe it to the people we seek to help, and taxpayers that pay for that help, to not just try harder with the same, but to try more effectively with different,” said Marsh. “I am looking forward to managing to maximum success this humanitarian and cost-effective opportunity.” 

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